Eversince I was a child, I have always loved hints of caramel.. I have never lost my love for caramel, butterscotch or the milder mocca, and I always find myself in search of new varieties. Upon arriving here in the US, one of the things that struck me was the wide variety of jams, jellies, vinegars, oils, and other condiments mixed up by region or state. You think that we had our share of kaong, strawberry jam (give me Good Shepherd please!) or ube (from Tamtamco) and the other goodies and pinoy delicacies we all grew up with.. here you have a hundred different pies depending on where you find yourself, and all these other goodies.
But despite the variety, we always had patis, suka and toyo as we knew it. Whether you bought it in Manila or in Zamboanga, toyo was toyo — and the vinegar only varied in acidity, not really in flavor. Here you will find rosemary vinegar, balsamic vinegar, etc., etc. So is it with caramel and other such syrups. With the American propensity to create lavish desserts, one of their delectable sweet treats are toppings and syrups like caramel and hot fudge.
As a lover of creamy caramel, I have always made a point to be on the look out for the non-grocery brands — leading me to scour the shelves of delis and specialty groceries for these luscious treats. One of my discoveries here in New York is a brand called LA SALAMANDRA, Milk Caramel or Dulce De Leche from Argentina.
It comes in a tiny bottle and only in one size, not too thick yet not too syrupy. Perfect for piling onto a banana or a quarter strawberry, or dipping pretzels into. (Think YANYAN — you’ll get my drift.) While I love dressing up ice cream, I prefer my caramel to dress other food up — if you get the chance to and see this on your grocery shelf, grab one (it’s a little pricey at $6.99 from Le Gourmet at Tanger in Riverhead, though) and believe me, you’ll find yourself coming back for more!